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For a Song by Elfman

Posted by shirleycurran on 20 May 2022

We have been expecting a tough puzzle for a while and, for us, this was it. The preamble instructed us to do a number of different things. We needed to spot a song title (its name would substitute ‘a song’ in the title) that was clearly going to be the key as that was to tell us how four normally-clued answers were to be treated before entry. Their definitions (the adjusted answers) were ‘inserted anywhere’ in the clues. Another four answers were to have a different treatment and would give us wordplay only in the clues. ‘Definitions of the second set’s answers appear elsewhere’. My, oh my!

Of course my first read through the clues included a hunt for Elfman’s admission to the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit and he didn’t exactly shine. All I found was ‘red’, ‘Discover daughter leaving red meat (6)’. (Some sort of vegan clue?) We took the D(aughter) out of RED VEAL and found REVEAL. Well, a rather muted ‘Cheers! Elfman.

Lots of odd things were happening in our grid before we had a hint of what was going on. We had INNER, PLANED, CONES, ELECTRIC and probably SPLIT that didn’t correspond at all to their wordplay and a few inexplicable words appearing in clues ‘Ice cream treat’, ‘subordinate to success’, ‘ballerina’, ‘smoothed’.

I imagine the p.d.m. for most solvers was spotting that the clue to ‘Actor Dan of Wicked (7)’ gave an anagram of DAN OF = the actor FONDA, whilst the solution appeared to be the ballerina FONTEYN, and, of course ‘ballerina’ appeared as an extra word in the ‘SPLIT’ clue. So DA (Russian for ‘Yes’), became TEYN an anagram, or ‘bananas’ NYET, and, of course a BANANA SPLIT is an ‘Ice cream treat’. Now we understood the CONES in 5ac, where the clue had said CYESES. A simple YES had become an inverted NO.

So ‘For YES, we have NO (anagrammed = bananas)’ (change YES to a jumbled NO) as the substituted title and BANANAs were going to be missing from three other clues (we have no bananas). Those were not easy to find. Pretty Things in clue 17 produced ELECTRIC BANANA and clue 8 defined that with an extra ‘smoothed’. ‘Choose a cinnabar after processing (8, two words)’ = ELECT + A CINNABAR*.

Tea told us that SECOND BANANA is a ‘subordinate to success’ and BANANA LAND is Queensland so we had our four missing bananas but still had to find two more ‘yeses’ becoming anagrammed ‘no’. Scots AYE and NAE seemed a likely candidate in 11ac where PLAYED had become PLANED with that mystrious ‘smoothed’ in clue 8d now making sense as it defined the new word.

We were left with INNER to explain. ‘Esoteric in the ‘BANANA LAND’ clue defined ‘inner’ but somehow we had to work out how we could find a foreign version of YES, with its NO jumbled. This was the toughest of the lot! It had to be JA becoming NEIN* so the wordplay led to JAR becoming INNER and that clue to JAR? ‘Rabble doesn’t have to fall over conflict (5)’ Rabble = JABBER and that ‘doesn’t have ‘EBB’ = to fall (over, or reversed)and JAR = conflict (not WAR as we had suspected.)

There was one thing more to do. We needed the Internet to tell us that Frank SILVER and Irving COHN wrote ‘Yes, We Have No Bananas‘ and we had to find their surnames in an appropriate shape (clearly a banana) in the grid, adjust one of them thematically, creating two new words, and highlight both names. ELOINS and LAND provided the words to treat with ON (NO*) becoming SI and SILVER and COHN obligingly appeared in banana shape on a diagonal – where else? What a stunning compilation!

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Listener No 4709: For a Song by Elfman

Posted by Dave Hennings on 20 May 2022

Elfman is not a regular setter, his last being four years ago with Hollywood tinsel (real and phoney) being its theme (no. 4489, Silent Movie). Three years before that, we had Elton John’s Rocket Man (no. 4350, Revelation of John). This week we had another song to unearth, courtesy of eight clues with answers entered in one of two thematic ways. Definitions of one set of entries were in the other set’s clues with the remaining definitions “appearing elsewhere”. Intriguing.

1ac Present time being short, part of space explorer is withdrawn (6) was the first clue I read, and pretty much the last one I sussed! [(TIM(e) + BUS)<] Luckily 5ac Type of irritant gas enveloping eyes affected pregnancies (5) came to the rescue [CS around EYES*] but needed to be entered thematically since it was too long for its 5-letter entry.

I seem to remember from previous Elfman puzzles that he comes up with a tricky set of clues, and so this proved. My favourite was 38ac Little woman with energy escaping opposite of cocky fellow (6) for JOHNNY [JO (from Little Women, I guess) + HENNY – E].

That said, I am at a loss as to the wordplay for JAR (becoming INNER, NEIN* for JA) at 4dn Rabble doesn’t have to fall over conflict (5).

And damn those “Numbers in brackets are the length of grid entries.” The simple clue at 10dn would indeed have been simple if it had been Actor Dan of Wicked (5) for FONDA. And as for missing out four lots of BANANAs in the first thematic set… well! Mind you, they did give some nice wordplay, with the definitions for the answers found in other clues, although that wasn’t really necessary to finish the puzzle.

  • 16ac Governor being obsessive and esoteric (4), extra word esoteric leaving BAN + ANAL + AND; definition Queensland found in the clue to 32dn
  • 40ac Temporarily transfer black solids in equal quantities (6, two words), extra word solids leaving SECOND + BAN + ANA; definition subordinate in 2dn
  • 8dn Choose a smoothed cinnabar after processing (8, two words), extra word smoothed leaving ELECT + (A CINNABAR)*; definition Pretty Things in 17ac
  • 30dn Crazy liberal found ballerina in bed (5, two words), extra word ballerina leaving BANANAS + L in PIT; definition ice cream treat in 42ac

I think it was looking at 5ac CYESES becoming CONES and 10dn FONDA becoming FONTEYN that finally nudged me in the right direction, although I thought it was simple reversals of the negatives, replacing the positives, rather than jumbles.

Of course, it didn’t take long for me to come up with a song involving yeses and bananas: Yes! We have no bananas. My first google brought up a lyrics site which gave the writers as Silver and Coon. Luckily, I read the Wiki entry and that gave them as Silver and Cohn. Seeing the VER diagonally put me on the right track to completing the endgame. ONLVER had to be restored to SILVER, followed by COHN. Both spellings of the second author can be traced in the bottom right. I went for COHN since SILVER COHN is symmetrical about the SW–NE axis of the grid.

Thanks for another fun puzzle, Elfman.

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Listener Crossword 4708   Diamond by Karla

Posted by gillwinchcombe on 16 May 2022

Musical Listeners aren’t normally, I confess, my favourite crosswords! Diamond was enjoyable thanks to the small number of possible keys for “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and its relatively painless emergence as the theme. The identity of the “symbols” dawned on me next morning – helped by STAR and MUSIC – and I was heartily relieved to spot “I wonder” as the two-word phrase. When I wrote the notes outside the grid alongside the rows, it all made sense and I was able to colour in the crochets and minims. (I just hope it is the notes that were required, rather than the stars.)

I was also relieved to solve 4dn “Doctor is parking in Oval buildings” (PAVILIONS) – a clever anagram that sent me down the ELLIPSOID route for a long time (P in IS etc). I had to reverse engineer 8dn “Italian essentially ignored Malaysian lord” (TUAN) – Tuscan was the last thought on my mind.

I love variety in puzzles, and gently musical Listeners are all part of the Listener’s rich tapestry. Great in small numbers!

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Listener Crossword 4707   An Overt by Awinger

Posted by gillwinchcombe on 16 May 2022

What a jolly theme for a Listener! Thank you to Awinger for his original treatment of the Bare Necessities. Progress was slow at first but sped up once I clocked the removed letter device and the bears – happy 60s memories of Jellystone antics. I can’t remember how I lit upon Bare Necessities, but the lyrics led to the message, which helped with the rest of the gridfill, and thence to spotting Jungle Book, Kipling, Baloo and Mowgli in the grid.

Two favourite clues:

34ac   Confess once caught breaking into chocolatier from the East (ACKNOW) for its smooth surface reading and Wonka reference; and

39ac    Cock[i]er apostle’s letters (PET) for the idea of a cockier apostle (Paul, surely).

I hadn’t figured out the title when I posted my solution, but Awinger has enlightened us in his blog: [W]AN[T] and [P]OVERT[Y] are bared. D’oh.

Thanks to Awinger for a delightful offering; children’s books are always a hit with me and this is his best puzzle so far I think.

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Listener Crossword 4706   Pedestrian Destination by eXternal

Posted by gillwinchcombe on 16 May 2022

Oh, eXternal, you’ve started something now! I had relinquished all hopes of walking to Machu Picchu but on doing some background reading for this puzzle I discover that octogenarians are managing to complete the trail. Maybe a 70th birthday treat. Or maybe not; I really enjoyed walking St Cuthbert’s Way last week with its gloriously varied scenery, but I suspect it hardly compares with the Inca Trail in terms of gradient, altitude, or my bugbear, heat.

Back to Pedestrian Destination: what an amazing construction! To create words capable of multiple alterations while spelling out LAKE TITICACA and THE INCA TRAIL is a worthy feat. Pedestrian Destination was an interesting, challenging and very  rewarding journey, with a delightful ending – an excellent if somewhat easier metaphor for the Inca trail itself I imagine – do let me know what it’s like.

The dropped letters were nicely disguised, and two clues stood out for me:

14ac “Pass water diviner, ignoring splendid fellow” (PEER) for contriving to clue R in such a way as to juxtapose water and diviner; and

32ac “One might turn red and scream blue murder, losing scrambled broadcast” (REMUEUR) for devising such a clever anagram.

Thanks very much eXternal for this delightful puzzle.

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